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Comment from a Reader

I received a comment from a reader on the Birthing Naturally Midwife Mentor Blog.  I moved it here to allow better discussion in a more appropriate forum.  Here is the comment I received.

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for your reply a little while back to my comments about Eve’s curse and the Jackie Mize book etc. I wasn’t going to write again but I recently read the statistic that 1 in 13 women in Cameroon will die giving birth this year and I got thinking again. This fact and also the many women who suffer from the after effects of very difficult births, causes me to feel that this message could make all the difference to Christians who would be open to hear.

It’s not about bypassing medical aid, if even available, but providing an answer from God’s own Word which could prevent these difficulties from happening. God’s Word is always worth proving and it works as effectively in 3rd world countries as in the USA! (often more so, as the people are more supernaturally minded and also may have no other alternative).

To those with medical training, it would, no doubt, sound rather foolish – but 1Cor. 1 speaks about God who saves those who simply believe and that word ‘sozo’ encompasses healing, keeping safe, rescue from destruction etc. 1Tim.2:15 promises that women will be saved in childbearing but clearly many Christian women are not. ie they die or suffer some injury. It would seem that the ‘if’ aspect is lacking somewhere. There is to be faith-in God’s promises and Jesus work on the cross (including Gal.3:13) love –a greater knowledge of God’s love– which produces more trust, holiness- perhaps including a ‘setting apart’ of one’s body in childbirth into God’s hands and self control or a steady mind that, fixed on the Lord and his Word keeps anxieties and fears at bay (an important factor as Jackie Mize relates in her book).

Of course, many women may not be interested in all this but I feel sure that those who work with pregnant women of Christian faith, would find that some would be very ready to hear. If this is truly a freedom for women that Jesus has provided for us, the results would soon speak for themselves. I believe it could be, at least, another ‘string’ in the ‘bow’ for those such as yourself who have contact and influence with Christian women in this field.

Thanks for listening,

Julie

Thanks for writing Julie

I am so glad to hear that other Christian women are interested in issues such as maternal mortality in developing countries.  This is an issue very close to my heart. Learning about such high rates of poor outcomes was the first step in God’s calling for me to be part of the solution.  I still remember sitting in my car at a red light, tears streaming down my face, as I accepted the call to participate — I needed to attend nursing school and become a midwife.  It still gives me shivers when I recall that day.

Two things come to mind from your letter.

The first is that the problem for women in the developing world is not higher rates of complications, but fewer resources to deal with those complications. Poor countries are working to improve accessibility of emergency obstetric care, but the process is slow and involves not only the building of hospitals and clinics, but also training of health workers, development of supply chains for essential medicines, and sustainable funding mechanisms.  Infrastructure to ensure timely transfer to higher levels of care must be in proper working order, while both families and health care workers must be able to identify when higher levels of care are appropriate.

It is the existing health care infrastructure which prevents high rates of death in the industrialized, wealthy nations.  In fact, here in the United States our maternal mortality rate has increased as our risks for maternal mortality have increased. Rates of obesity and both chronic and pregnancy induced hypertension have increased in the United States as has the number of women giving birth after 40.  Each of these increases the risk for a poor outcome.  In a sense, you could say the US has the potential for more maternal deaths than poor countries because the baseline health status of our pregnant population is lower.  The fact that maternal death rates remain lower than countries with less infrastructure reflects the importance of a functioning healthcare infrastructure. There is also evidence to suggest further reductions in maternal  and neonatal mortality and morbidity in the US can happen if systematic changes in the healthcare system are put into place, such as elimination of elective induction prior to 39 or 40 weeks.

The second thought is  the concept that stronger faith will lead to less complications in pregnancy requires some assumptions that I do not believe are Biblically supported. While I do believe the Bible supports the concept that a strong faith helps you weather the challenges of life, I don’t see evidence the elimination of challenges (problems) is to be an expected outcome. Some examples that lead me to this conclusion are the stories of Job, Daniel, and Paul.  Where problems were eliminated, such as Jesus healing individuals, the Bible makes clear the event was a special situation. The events in the Garden of Gethsemane and the crucifixion demonstrate that even Jesus was not able to avoid challenging and difficult situations. Jesus went willingly to the cross because he desired to do the will of God, but that did not make the experience in any way less difficult or unpleasant.

I hope that gives you some more information to chew on as you form your plan of how to follow this call God has given you, and I am excited to see where God leads you as your heart for pregnant women grows.

Jennifer

 

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Considering A Birth or Pregnancy Ministry

Jul 7th, 2014 Ministry Opportunities

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I know the feeling of a ministry idea sprouting and growing inside you. I’ve had it myself, and I’ve helped many women nurture the idea into a successful ministry. Be encouraged, if you have an idea growing you you are not alone. But you may be wondering, “How do I make that idea a reality?”

With friends at the Christian Midwives International Conference in 2008 — talking about a ministry idea that was growing in one of us.

Over the next few weeks I will share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. We’ll talk about common problems and the not so easy work it takes to avoid those problems.  We’ll also talk about some great resources you can use to build a strong foundation.

In the meantime, head over to the main website to read the basics of birth ministry building.

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Christian Midwives International and Midwifery Today 2008

Jun 19th, 2014 Jennifer's Updates

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In 2008 I was ready for the full conference experience.  I was able to attend Midwifery Today because of a program that accepted students to work as room stewards. I wouldn’t be able to select what sessions I attended, but my expenses were much less.  I don’t have any photos because my husband convinced me I was going to work, not hang out with friends. But hang out with friends I did.  This conference solidified some friendships that began the year prior.

I was smarter for the Christian Midwives International Conference – I brought my camera despite his suggestion I leave it at home. I’m glad I did.  Another case of ‘celebrity’ shock as I met Betty Peckman, author of Christian Midwifery.  Her book was one of the first Christian childbirth books I bought, and I love her wisdom.

 

Both Midwifery Today and Christian Midwives International tried to balance skills with speaking sessions.  Here are some friends practicing cardiac assessment and placenta assessment at one of the CMI sessions.

 

 

 

I expected to learn, but I didn’t realize how important the encouragement I received would be.  So many of the women I met at CMI were wiser, more experienced than me, and I instantly loved them because they were so willing to share that wisdom and experience. There was also a good bit of fun.  Here I am learning to make placenta prints.  Not a clinical skill, just something fun to share with families.

I think this was the first year I spoke at CMI – I am in the photos of the speakers.  I believe I spoke on how to speak to women so they will listen (you know, talking to women about changing their diet, exercise or other very personal habits without them feeling judged and belittled).

Needless to say, this introvert was hooked.  I had started to build some solid friendships and enjoyed the different learning activities.  When the conference ended, I was already looking forward to the next year.

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Christian Midwives International 2007

Jun 16th, 2014 Jennifer's Updates

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As promised, I dug out my old files to find conference photos.  I hope I’ve selected some good ones to give you an idea what goes on at conferences.

I think the first conference I attended was from CAPPA, possibly as far back as 2003, but I would not have taken any photos and don’t have a record of that. It was the only doula conference I ever attended, and I don’t remember thinking it was anything worth the cost.  Why? By the time I attended I had been doing childbirth education and doula work for a few years so the conference offered little to me in terms of expanding my doula and CBE knowledge.  I didn’t understand the value of networking, and being a natural introvert I kept my interactions focused on the one or two people I knew.  I walked away thinking conferences were not for me.

I also attended a small regional conference in Virginia in 2005 hosted by my friend Doran Richards of Blessing God’s Way, but again I have no photo record of that event.  This event was combined with a meeting between a few friends and I, so I didn’t attend much of the conference.  But I do remember being disappointed at not having the opportunity to meet Shonda Parker of Naturally Healthy – something prevented her from attending at the last minute. This event has the distinction of being the unveiling of my first published book. Looking back I can only say I was so convinced of the smallness of my ministry.

I found a few photos from the first Christian Midwives International Conference I attended in 2007.  This is the conference I only attended for a day, and only because my dear friend didn’t want to go alone.  I only took a few photos, mostly of my friend while she spoke.

This is my friend Kelly Townsend of Cascade Christian Childbirth speaking about the intersection of natural birth and Christianity.

 

This conference was also my first experience meeting a ‘celebrity.’  Kathy Nesper from Apple Tree Family Ministries was there. Kelly did not feel like a celebrity to me, she was my friend.  I am happy to say Kathy is no longer ‘celebrity’ to me because I much prefer to call her my friend.

Like I said, we only stayed for one day, Kelly had another appointment to keep.  We flew from the conference to a gathering of Midwives on the West Coast – a few midwives who couldn’t make the trip east for this conference. Imagine my surprise to find out we were spending the evening with Barbara Harper of Waterbirth International and Jan Triten of Midwifery Today!  Celebrity shock indeed!

So that was it – just two days and a lot of air travel. But it served the purpose of removing any fear I might have of attending conferences.

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AWHONN 2014 Convention

Jun 14th, 2014 Jennifer's Updates

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Today is the start of the AWHONN 2014 Convention. This will be the first AWHONN Convention I’ve attended so I’m very excited to see how they do things and make connections. This is actually my third conference this year. Christian Midwives International was in April, and the International Confederation of Midwives was at the start of this month. I skipped ACNM this year due to the lack of money and time to attend four conferences.

This is also the first conference this year where I don’t know anyone else going.  I realize this can be a major barrier for some of you who want to become more involved in birth ministry — so major that the only reason I attended my first birth conference was because a friend was going to Christian Midwives International and did not want to go alone. I tagged along so she wouldn’t be too nervous. We only stayed a day, but the experience began turning the wheels of some of my most long-lasting friendships in the birth world.

Conferences are no longer a big deal to me, and although it is always nice to know someone when you are traveling to another part of the country, going alone has some perks too.  When you go to a conference with people, you tend to stay with “your people” for meals, for sessions, for free time… and while you will probably meet some new people, chances are the interactions are on a much smaller scale than what you would do if you had been there alone.

So this is my encouragement to you…get involved in conferences.  If all you can do is go for one day then do it.  Allow yourself the time to expand your skill, increase your knowledge, and build your network. I’ll see if I can dig up some old photos from past conferences to show you what I mean. I’ll post what I find.

And if you are going to the AWHONN Convention, let me know.  You can network with me!

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Only Human

Jun 10th, 2014 Ministry Opportunities

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I type this after I repaired a few broken links on the main Christian Childbirth website — links which have been broken since the debut of the new style several months ago. Cringe-worthy mistakes that make me wonder how I can continue to think I can balancing a PhD program and my hobby websites is possible.

This is probably not anything you particularly care about — unless you were stuck unable to follow a link. Except, I think it is important sometimes that we remember we are all only human. We will make mistakes and the work we produce will not be perfect.

If what is holding you back from serving others in pregnancy and birth is the belief or fear you are not good enough, let me be the first to encourage you that you are good enough. You do have something to offer and if God is calling you to serve, I highly recommend stepping forward boldly and being willing to learn as you go.

I promise the adventure of learning is reward enough.

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Catholic Nuns and Health Policy

May 26th, 2014 International Issues

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I thought some readers might be interested in this article from Nursing Outlook. You will need a subscription or a library access to read the full article, but the abstract is posted online.

Title:  The role of Catholic nurses in women’s health care policy disputes: A historical study

Author: Barbra Mann Wall, PhD, RN, FAAN

Journal: Nursing Outlook  Volume 61, Issue 5 , Pages 367-374, September 2013

 

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Planning for Guest Bloggers

May 23rd, 2014 Ministry Opportunities

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I have been considering several options for the addition of guest bloggers or contributors to the Christian Childbirth Blog. So an update.

The Format

I think I have the final format for the contribution series — each month will have a topic question about Christian childbirth. These are the questions we all had when we first thought about being pregnant through a Christian lens.

Should a Christian use Birth Control?
Is a Natural Childbirth More “Christian”?
Why is Childbirth Painful?
Does God Want Circumcision or Not?

This means each contributor will have the opportunity to share how they deal with these difficult questions.  Leave a comment to let me know what questions you would like discussed.

The Contributors

This part gets a little sticky, because we all know that Christians tend to play with other Christians who have the same opinions about these difficult topics. But the goal of the blog is to present the many different ways Christian families approach these questions.  I am considering a few options for how to reach a broad group of contributors, but if you have any ideas of people who should be included let me know.

The Work

I still have alot to do to be ready for contributors and to manage this project.  I’m excited to do it, and this really is the perfect time.  I can’t wait to see what the end result of this new ministry opportunity will be.

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Looking Forward

May 22nd, 2014 Ministry Opportunities

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In 2010, Tammy Ryan and I began this blog from our desire to provide information to expectant Christian families. While we still have a strong heart for the concept, we simply don’t have the time to devote to all the writing.

So in comes plan B…

We have decided to invite additional authors.  This provides several bonuses to us, to the authors, and to you the readers.

More authors means more perspectives, depth of insight and experiences to share.

More authors means Tammy and I will devote less time to writing and can focus on the administrative duties — getting things posted (you don’t want to know how many unpublished “drafts” I’ve collected over the past two years).

More authors means you get more information more frequently.

 

I am very excited about the possibility of this new format.  I’d love to know what Christian childbirth writers, professionals and inspirational women/men you want posting here.

If you are personally interested in this opportunity, contact Tammy or I for more information.

 

 

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Updating Lord of Birth

May 5th, 2014 Life Reflections

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Today is the first day of a big summer project.  I will be updating the Lord of Birth, and if time permits I’ll also update 40 weeks.  This is a relief, and a sadness.

A relief because the books were an amateur effort from the start — my personal prayer journals — that I only published because of the prompting of friends.  The topics deserve a better treatment and higher quality than I could do ten years ago.

A sadness because I have a feeling there are some women who will prefer the books as they were originally written, and who will feel someone slighted by my insistence on making changes.

A relief because a book is a static thing, only able to reflect who I was and what I understood in a single moment of time. Ten years later, people still make assumptions about me based on what God was teaching me over 15 years ago.

A sadness because as much as the books must mature, maturation is difficult.  What do I leave out, what do I add in? In some ways it feels like devaluing the first things I learned.

A relief because my skills at communicating have improved in the 10 years, and hopefully I will be able to express myself without confusing other women or causing great misunderstandings that have happened with the previous versions.

A sadness because words will always be inadequate communication tools, and I know others will misunderstand what I write again.

And so it begins….

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